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Surrogacy In South Africa,It Is Not All Roses And Moonshine, Part 1

I have been trying to only write about the sweet moments of my surrogacy journey, the love , the support and the birth of the beautiful twins, The truth is, i feel a bit dishonest because i am not touching on the negative sides of this process too .The process is not all moonshine and flowers, it has some negative sides too. I am going to write this as a surrogate mom, i cant speak for the parents but i am sure they also have their own trials and tribulations.

The process of the surrogacy was not bad at all,Although it had its own challenges and i will touch on that on my next post. My biggest challenge was Post Surrogacy.Before you start this process its wise to sit down and think of how this whole process will impact your life.

According to the South African law, surrogate mothers can only be surrogates for altruistic purposes. Lets look at the word ALTRUISTIC, this means a selfless concern for the well being others. Being altruistic is generally considered a good trait. A person who has a generous nature who shares what he has with others is considered doing good

I lost my job because of the constant off days i was taking during the process and then 2 months after giving birth i was homeless and squatting at a friend’s house. There was nothing i could do because i knew the law said they don’t have to compensate me in any way. yet it was because of the process that i was in this predicament, Nevertheless, I had to pick myself up and start looking for a job,which proved very hard because of the Covid19 pandemic.

 Altruism of course can be carried too far. Some altruistic people do not look out for their own needs as they should. I felt like i cared more about giving them a family than i did about myself. I couldn’t take time out for my c-section to heal properly because i had a child to feed, i needed to hit the ground running straight after the birth. i mean,i was being taken care of for months during the pregnancy, they bought my food and rent and then it came to a halt. I am a person who is used to asking for help so i of suffer alone.

This whole surrogacy process lasted for almost 2 years. Going to the lawyers, the high court, the medical and psychological evaluations, the constant lawyers meetings, then the process of preparing the body with hormones , different surgeries etc. I could hardly work because of the constant time off and the hormones where messing with my body and my mind. i wasn’t myself

If given a chance i would rewrite the rules to say,

* Lets Not Commercialize But Lets Compensate for at least 6 months after.Lets Also normalize getting surrogate mothers psychological help after the process.

Don’t get me wrong , Surrogacy is a beautiful thing , its miraculous.I went through some of my own negative experiences which should not taint the whole process.I do not regret doing it at all because when i see a picture of those babies, my heart melts like butter. The funny part is that i would do it again and again and …..

My First Period Kit

Remember your first period?

How was it?

Was it awkward like mine?

I remember my first period, i was 13 years old and i lived with my great grand mother. The woman who raised me and knew me very well. She loved me and took great care of me, but somehow i just couldn’t bring myself to tell her that i had just got my first period. I knew what it was because i had learnt about it at school, yet somehow i felt embarrassed, it felt wrong and foreign. I didn’t want it to happen to me so i hid it .

We lived in the rural areas and we  farmed for food and we never really had much when it came to modern things.We never had toilet paper, in fact ,our toilet paper was old newspapers. So i quietly folded a page from a newspaper and stuffed it in my undies .It was so uncomfortable but i got through day 1 unnoticed. Day 2 we woke up early to go to the fields. I threw away the previous newspaper in the Blair toilet and i put in a fresh fold. It was a long walk to the fields and the newspaper had already started hurting me.

When we got to the fields , she would dig a hole on the ground with a hoe and i had to follow behind and plant the seeds, i would throw the seeds into the shallow hole and bend down to cover it with the soil. The newspaper kept hurting me ,  i had folded it too thick, it was scratching me and it caused a lot of friction. As we continued to work, my grandmother turned and looked at me, She asked ” Why are you Limping?” I said ,”nothing” . She continued working for a few mins and she turned again and said ,”come here”. I approached her with shame and she asked if my private parts hurt because by that time i was in so much pain such that i walked with my legs apart. I burst into tears and told her that i had gotten my periods.

She comforted me and we went home, she told me to go take a bath and after that she gave me a ball of cotton  wool. She showed me how to break it and fold it in a square and how to place it in my undies. She told me to change it each time it felt too wet.  She also told me not to play with boys because i would get pregnant and that was it. She never spoke about it again because that was the way she was , we never spoke about sensitive stuff.   Every month she would quietly put out a ball of cotton wool for me to use . it worked and i had to make do because i didn’t know anything better, i only got to use pads when i was 24 and had left the rural areas. 

Most Parents/ guardians nowadays are different ,They talk about sensitive stuff with their kids and that is a good thing

but I cant help but wonder, What about all the other things a parent cant say or the things they leave out? .What about that single dad who has a daughter and she finds it very awkward to talk to daddy about it and she just keeps it to herself? What about that parent who works very hard and would probably be away on a business trip when it happens?. What about that orphan  who does not have anyone to talk to?  

My dream is to make sure that no girl child ever gets to experience that awkwardness , the shame and the lack of information that i experienced. So an idea came to me as i walked through the sanitary isle in a shop.You must understand that being able to afford sanitary towels, still feels like a dream come true to me, so i always stay very long at the sanitary isle, i am like a kid in a candy store, i like to read labels and i still like to buy different types just to go try out. 

That is how the first period kit was born. I wrote a well researched guideline for young girls about how to handle their first period, . It addresses the emotions one goes through, hygiene, how to choose the type of sanitary towels that are best for you. It addresses the biological side of it too, meaning the menstrual circle and it also teaches about embracing womanhood. This kit comes with an assortment of sanitary towels and tampons, the best brands, for different types of flows. It also comes with a hot water bottle, sweets, chocolates, a box of pain medication and much more. This kit can be personalized to come from a parent it and a letter from you can be included.

Lets change the world one first period at a time

What Pride Month Means To Me

After signing up to be a potential surrogate mom,My agent called me one morning and told me that a couple had fallen in love with my profile. I was so excited. She just never mentioned that it was a gay couple.The meeting day came, i wore my best and i was extremely nervous. you must understand this is a crucial meeting. In surrogacy both parties have to like each other and at least connect at a certain level.

I got to the Agents’ office and i found her sitting with 2 men. At first i assumed they were just friends of hers only to be told this was the couple that had chosen me. Initially i froze. I didn’t know what to say. I just wasn’t prepared . I was never homophobic but i had never really had friends or family that were openly gay and i had been raise by parents who would speak ill of the LGBT Community. So i was a bit confused at that moment, i needed a moment to really search myself and know where i stood. I mean,,, this was a topic i had always avoided.I had just ignored the entire existence of the LGBT all my life.

After a few minutes i managed to compose myself and i greeted them and we sat down to talk. They decided to tell me about themselves first. They had been married for over 6 years . They told me the beautiful story of how they met . They told me why they wanted babies and how they had spoke about having babies on their first date 8 years ago. After listening to them talk i found myself warming up to them. These were two beautiful people,loving and kind. All they wanted was to be parents and i had no doubt at that moment that they would make lovely parents.i could tell by their body language that they were very much in love.

At that moment it hit me. Why do we judge people based on their sexual orientation? Why do we judge people because they are gay, straight, lesbian or even racially? Sometimes we get clouded by the fact that someone is different from us and we don’t even get to know the person. What matters is that they are human like you and we just need to love each other. Let us learn to celebrate our diversities

This couple had chosen me and i said yes because i had chosen them too. I chose them because i realized they had so much love to give and because i knew they would make awesome parents. It was the best decision i ever made and i know it was part of God’s plan because God is the giver of life. He gave them two beautiful babies because he loves them.

Who are you to hate God’s creation? Who are you to judge on what sexual orientation is good or bad? Happy Pride Month!!

What I Did For A Successful IVF At First Try

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The list of the medication i used and the timeline can be found on my post about IVF medications. This is just an account of my transfer leading to a positive pregnancy test

My transfer was done with 5 day old frozen embryos. My Uterus lining was at 10mm. Before the procedure i had already been taking prenatal vitamins. I recommend preg omega plus. On the day of the transfer i was told not to use any scented soap or lotions and i was told not to use any perfume before the transfer.

I must say i was very nervous but i managed to be calm .When time came, my legs were strapped apart to restrict movement. They put a scan on my stomach so that they could see as the doctor inserted the two embryos straight into my uterus. He inserted them both at one go, which i found strange because i was expecting 2 insertions. We were done in 10 mins. I was told to lie down for about 30mins before going home. I thought 30mins was too short because i was scared of even standing up as i felt like the embryos would fall right out of me.

Upon leaving the hospital i went to the local deli to get a meal of grilled veges and chicken. I had read up on the fact that i was supposed to eat wholesome foods during this time. I also bought pomegranate juice because it is said to help with the babies attaching to my uterus. For the following 2 weeks i never ate or drank anything cold. i drank only warm water and ate a lot of potatoes, butternut, fruits and eggs, i also snacked on different nuts. i drank less sugar and i never drank coffee. i also took my prenatal vitamins and my progesterone religiously. I kept my feet warm every time and i only took off my socks when i was bathing. it is important to keep your feet warm all the time.

Some people say exercise is good but i never exercised. I only got out of bed to prepare food and to bath. I just didn’t want to move a lot as i felt that i needed to be calm and let the embryos attach without any vigorous activity.

After 2 weeks i took a pregnancy test and it had one strong line and a faded one. i then did a blood test and it came out positive for hcg levels. i went for my first transvaginal scan in 3 weeks and it showed 2 water sacs. This was a confirmation of twins.

My Experience With Colposcopy and LLETZ Procedure

A few months after giving birth to the twins i went for my routine pap smear. When my results came back it was positive for abnormal cells in my uterus.I was scared because initially i thought i had cancer. The doctor recommended a Colposcopy first for proper diagnostic. This is a procedure to closely examine your cervix, vagina and vulva for signs of disease. During colposcopy, the doctor uses a special instrument called a colposcope. it shows a close up image of the uterus, identifying the problem areas. I had abnormal cells which had a potential to develop into cancer later. i was so lucky it was discovered earlier .I was then booked for a LLETZ Procedure to remove the abnormal cell.This procedure involves removing part of your cervix where the abnormal cells are by using a thin wire loop that is heated with an electric current.

The procedure wasn’t painful, i only felt the pain after i got home when the anesthetics had worn out.It wasn’t a severe pain, just a period like pain. I had a smelly brownish discharge for 3 days then bleeding started. It was light at first then on day 5 it became so heavy i was soaking a pad in every 2 hours. I would go to the bathroom and pass out a clot the size of a golf ball. This happened for a day and i passed out 7 golf sized clots in total. I thought about going to the doctor the next day because it was freaking me out but the bleeding went back to normal that morning and i decided not to go.. I then bled for 2 more weeks alternating between slightly heavy and light bleeding. By the end of week 3 i had brown discharge and no bleeding. i had slight period like pains here and there but it was nothing hectic.

The best way to heal from a LLETZ Procedure will be getting rest, not staying too long on your feet, the use of water bottles whenever the pain is bad and drinking lots of warm water. by week 4 i was completely healed with no discharge and bleeding.

My Experience With a Hysteroscopy and D&C

As part of my preparation for the surrogacy, the doctors recommended that i had to do a hysteroscopy just to see clearly if my womb was safe for the embryos to be placed. a hysteroscopy is a procedure whereby the doctor inserts a slim instrument with a light and camera on the end into your vagina, through your cervix and up into your uterus. The Doctor then views the lining of your uterus on a screen, noting any areas that look abnormal, making sure there aren’t any polyps and taking tissue samples as needed.

During my Hesteroscopy they discovered that i had a small uterine polyps and so they decided to do a D & C. This was done under local anastheitic , i didint feel a thing during the procedure. it took about an hour. I was discharged from the hospital the same day. I bled for about 3 days and they gave me a month to completely heal before starting surrogacy medication

Postpartum Depression in Surrogacy

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Postpartum depression affects a lot of women after giving birth. It is caused by hormonal changes and psychological adjustment to motherhood.Women normally experience a deep emotional pain, anxiety, frustration ,severe mood swings and sometimes a sense of hopelessness.I never experienced postpartum depression after having my biological daughter.I only got to experience it after my surrogacy journey. It hit me very hard because on top of everything that a woman goes through when they have postpartum depression, i felt a severe sense of loss.

I had started a surrogacy journey.I had prepared my body for a pregnancy, with lots of medication and a few procedures here and there. Finally i got pregnant. During the pregnancy i made sure i ate healthy, i walked like i was carrying precious cargo , i followed the doctors orders and i finally gave birth to these two beautiful babies, BUT…these babies were not mine. they had to go home with their lovely parents. That is when the sense of loss hit me. I had known they were not mine but they had been part of me for a lot of months and i had felt them kick and move, but now i had to let them go.

Seeing how happy the couple was,,, there was no part of me that wished the babies were mine but i still felt a sense of loss. I believe the main reason was that i gave birth so suddenly at 8 months . One moment i was at the Doctors for a check up and the next i was admitted because they discovered that i was dilating, an emergency Cesarean was done. I think i wasn’t mentally prepared for the birth that is why it hit me so hard, but i still believe that any surrogate can suffer from postpartum depression, prepared or not because at the end of it all. You are left without the baby you were carrying.

It wasn’t only about the loss of the babies. It was also the loss of the friendship i had developed with the parents too. We had been in communication constantly during the journey and i had grown so close to them. After the birth everything had to stop. They had new babies in the house and i am sure they had to adjust to being new parents and they couldn’t really keep in touch with me the way they had before. I knew all of this but at the time my hormones got the better of me and i did the unthinkable.I lashed out at them via text for using me to get what they wanted and then dumping me after. It was when my doctor diagnosed me with postpartum depression and put me on medication that i started to see things clearly. I then focused on my healing and on giving my daughter the attention she never got when i was pregnant and sick.

My advise to surrogates out there. Seek help during and after the pregnancy whenever you feel overwhelmed and sad. Talk to your doctor or psychologist. It is not easy to carry a baby and have to part with it at birth, biological or not.

My Experience With IVF Medications As A Gestational Surrogate

This is an account of my personal experience. The medications i used and the side effects i experienced

This is a form of birth control pill. I took one everyday at the same time.This was used to regulate my circle as this helps in timing the IVF process. It had no side effects on me. I was on it for a month

2) Lucrin/Lupron
This is a drug that shuts down the body’s normal process of hormone and egg development so that you don’t ovulate during the ovarian stimulation process. I was injecting myself everyday at the same time on my stomach right below my belly button.
I started taking this on day 14 of taking Melodene. I continued with Melodene even as i started Lucrin Injections

I started by injecting 10units for 3 days then i moved to 5 units for about 14 days
The side effects were hot flashes, fatigue and headaches

Please note: injecting yourself is never easy, if you have are not alone ask for help

Right after i got my period i started on E2. This is a pill that helps to thicken the lining so that pregnancy can be maintained and the embryo can easily attach.
I was still on Lucrin when i started it. 5 days after taking it my lining thickened to 5mm, in 9 days my lining was 10mm. At that point i stopped injecting Lucrin

4) Progesterone /Crinone Gel
5 days before the transfer i started crinone vaginal gel. This is form of progesterone and it helps support pregnancy and reduces the risk of pre term labour.
I was taking this simultaneously with the e2 as we still wanted to thicken the lining more, i would apply the gel in the morning and then take e2 pill 3 times a day , and also a progesterone injection in the evenings.
Doctors normally prescribe progesteron in different forms , in my case i was using the gel and injection daily

I did this everyday for 5 days and i also added prenatal vitamins to the list
Please note: it is important to start on prenatal vitamins before the pregnancy as it also helps your body to be prepared for the baby. I took Preg Omega Plus.

Surrogacy Laws in South Africa

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  • Before the surrogacy journey commences the “commissioning parents” and the surrogate must have their surrogacy agreement validated by the High Court even before fertilization. This allows the commissioning parents to be recognized as legal parents
  • The surrogate mother needs to be domiciled in South Africa. If she is married or in a relationship her husband and/or partner should agree to her becoming a surrogate. Furthermore the commissioning parents should also be domiciled in South Africa.
  • Children born from a surrogate mother is by law the child of the commissioning parents. The surrogate mother and her partner has no parental rights towards the child.
  • A surrogate mother is not allowed to receive payment for being a surrogate, other than expenses that she incurred i.e. medical expenses or loss of income due to her not working. In other words its illegal to become a surrogate for commercial purposes in south Africa. It can only be done for ALTRUISTIC purposes